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Militant Groups Unite in Mali

An al-Qaida-linked group led by the alleged mastermind of a January attack on an Algerian gas plant is joining forces with one of the Islamist militant groups that seized control of northern Mali last year.

The Nouakchott Information Agency, in Mauritania, says terror leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar's Masked Men Brigade has formed an alliance with the Mali-based group known as MUJAO

The news agency says the new alliance will be called "al Mourabitounes."

In a Thursday statement, the agency says the organization has vowed to support Islamists in Egypt and seek revenge against France for leading an intervention in Mali this year to oust Islamist militants.

The new alliance described its mission as "unifying the ranks of Muslims around the same goal, from the Nile to the Atlantic."

The two groups are believed to have worked together in previous attacks. Both groups claimed responsibility for May attacks on military barracks and a French-owned uranium mine in Niger.

Belmokhtar, an Algerian, broke away from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb to form the Masked Men Brigade.

The United States has charged him with participating in the January gas plant attack in Algeria that killed at least 37 people, including three Americans.